TAZEWELL, Va. — A Batman comic book villain called Bane walked past the parked cars filling the field while horror star Freddie Kruger arrived at the 2023 Tazewell County Fairgrounds. They were among the many costumed guests converging on the 2023 Tazewell County Comic Con.
The ninth comics convention, sponsored by the Tazewell County Public Library and the TCPL Friends of the Library, brought together fans of comics, fantasy, science fiction, anime cartoons and more. Little fans dressed like fairies and comic book heroes like Superman mingled with iconic villain Darth Vader and the villainous Joker among the vendors’ tables while other attendees prepared for a costume contest.
Chris Wilkes, assistant director at the Tazewell County Public Library, stepped away for a moment to describe the ongoing event.
“This is just an event to celebrate things like anime, comic books, science fiction, fantasy,” Wilkes said over the conversations and announcements. “We just wanted to bring this to Tazewell and the greater Tazewell County community because not anything like this has happened here before. This is actually the ninth year, I think, we’ve been doing it. This has just gotten bigger and bigger as we go along.”
Guests explored merchants and the activities being offered.
“So we have lots of vendors selling things like toys, crafts. We have an author,” Wilkes said. “We have some Tazewell County High School students going face painting. We have video games. We have board games. We have a costume contest a little bit later. We have discussion panels. One on cosplay, and cosplay is when people get dressed up like a certain character. And we’re having how to draw a web comic. That’s actually happening right now. I’m getting ready to do a D&D panel (Dungeons & Dragons) in about 15 minutes.”
Amity Lane and other Friends of the Library were ready to greet guests coming into Nuckolls Hall.
“I do think it’s really nice to see how a community that’s an overlooked group of individuals are able to come together and exchange ideas,” Lane said.
Vendors offering comics, vintage toys, wood crafts and other merchandise filled the public hall. Jerissa Looney of Dragonfly Crafts in Russell County, Va. had items such as crystals, crystal skulls and semiprecious stones while her husband displayed his handmade leather goods.
“It’s been great,” she said while attendees browsed. “I’ve told my husband this is my new favorite kind of venue. The people, they’re so friendly. This kind of crowd is personable.”
At the other end of Nuckolls Hall, costumed judges Bridget Price of War and Roary Vi of Bradshaw were getting ready for the costume contest.
People come to events like Tazewell Comic Con so they can be part of the costume community, Price said. Fans of comics and other entertainment can branch out and try new things while meeting other people who share their interests. Many of the contests’s contestants had made their own costumes and props.
Price was dressed as the character Hu Tao from the anime cartoon Genshin and Vi’s costume was Soraka from the League of Legends.
“I love meeting new people who share my interests,” Vi added. “I love seeing how creative everybody is and how we have grown as a community to bring an event like this to Tazewell.
Near the hall’s entrance, Josh Auton of Falls Mills, Va. arrived with his homemade steampunk battle cart.
Steampunk, which features stories set in the Victorian Era, imagines worlds in which 20th Century technology appears in the 19th Century. Built on a two-wheel hand truck, the steampunk cart featured a lighted miner’s helmet, a horn and scrap metal art. Auton’s friend Chris DeHart had turned toy Airsoft guns into steampunk guns – one with a military-grade laser pointer – for the costume project.
Tammie Hash of North Tazewell paused to take pictures of costumed attendees. It was her second visit to the Tazewell Comic Con.
“My kids were always into anime and comic cons,” she said. “It’s just exciting that we have something like this in Tazewell.”
— Contact Greg Jordan at [email protected]